This March and April, UK distributor Emporia Brands have put together a calendar of events involving its award-winning St Lucia Distillers range, after the initial success of last year’s programme.
Brand Ambassador Dave Marsland and the Emporia Brands team will be touring fifteen cities as they bring together the Chairman’s Reserve range, which includes Gold, Spiced, White Label and Forgotten Cask, the Admiral Rodney, and an edition of premium expression 1931, plus a selection of the distillates from which they are blended.
In 1931, the Barnard family founded a distillery at Dennery, St Lucia. Now based on the other side of the island at Roseau, the distillery has been considerably modernized and new technologies and improvements constantly incorporated. The installation of pot stills in 1998 added considerably to the variety of rums being produced in this highly regarded distillery which received the accolade of Individual Distiller of the Year at the International Spirits Challenge, one of six trophies received in six years – a unique achievement.
With the premise of a flavour experience, the tour sees an approach to the range that offers bartenders and key industry figures invited to not only learn about St Lucia, but ideas on how to embrace the versatility of St Lucia Distillers, from the Spiced variety to the rare 1931.
Cities on the tour include Manchester, London, Leeds, Brighton, Liverpool, Birmingham, Nottingham, Leicester, Newcastle, Cardiff, Reading, Edinburgh, Dundee, Aberdeen and Glasgow, with Emporia Brands looking to strengthen their campaign as they look ahead to the next instalment of the ‘Chairman’s XI’ with their ever-expanding sales team seeking out some of the UK’s best and brightest to follow in the footsteps of some of the industries key figures, including Lyndon Higginson of The Liars Club in Manchester, Danny Murphy of Aloha in Liverpool and Adam Binnersley of the MOJO Group.
Places are limited for each session, due to the rarity of gaining the exclusive 1931 and distillates for the tasting’s. To secure your place, please contact Dave Marsland at firstname.lastname@example.org, stating the session you wish to attend from the list below.
Cuba has a history when it comes to rums. Both Bacardi and Havana, two of the biggest names in the rum world, have an affiliation with the country. But there’s a third, and that name has hit the UK shores these past few years.
Hailing from the centrally located Santo Dominco distillery of Cuba Ron S.A in Villa Clara, Ron Cubay, or the ‘Taste of the Centre’, has been in production since 1967, but only in 2010 did it reach Europe after initially being created solely for domestic consumption. Cuba’s climate makes it one of the best places to produce sugar cane, the basis of any rum, and of course the base for Ron Cubay’s expressions.
So how does the newcomer fare? Well below, I give to you my tasting notes on the core range –
Ron Cubay Carta Blanca – 38%
Aged for three years. A slight scent of sugarcane on the nose that follows onto the palate. A warmth develops with flavours of fruit and dry wood combining. Bursts of fresh sugar hit near the end, and creates a mouth-watering finish. Lingers a little.
Ron Cubay Añejo – 38%
Aged in white oak for more than five years. A blend of light honey and demerara sugar on the nose, with the wood notes coming through at the end. Starts slowly with vanilla flavours, but develops with a rush of fresh sugar, flesh juicy fruit and a finish of leather and raisin. A long, slightly dry end.
Ron Cubay Reserva Especial– 40%
Aged for ten years in oak barrels. A dark treacle nose is present, with a thick honey glaze on the end. Chewy on the palate, with a soft, velvet texture of dark fruits, raisins, smoked fudge and heavy oak tannins. Incredibly long and inviting.
Some really great tots on their own, but for something like the Carta Blanca, you may find it more suited towards this –
45 ml Ron Cubay Carta Blanca
20 ml Lime juice
5 ml Simple syrup
Pour all ingredients into a shaker with ice cubes. Shake well. Strain in chilled Martini glass.
The Reserva Especial is a cracking expression, very different to what you would expect, and a worthy winner of the Best Premium Rum at the 2012 Dutch Rum Awards. The Ron Cubay packaging is also an award winner, as well as the Añejo winning Best Golden Rum at the 2012 Dutch Rum Awards. Although there are two more expressions which are available in Cuba but not yet Europe (a 4 yr and 5yr old), you wouldn’t mind too much at all as you’ll be sharing this new brand with your friends and family at home or hopefully soon in your local bar.
Bacardí is one of the biggest brands in the world, yet I can not believe that I am yet to feature it in any way shape or form. So in response to this, lets take a look at how Bacardí is the name of rum, and why it is enjoyed in nearly every country *.
1814 heralded the birth of Don Facundo Bacardí Massó, the founder and mastermind behind the Bacardí rum. In the late 1800’s, Cuban’s were becoming tired of the usual pirate rum found on the island, which Don Facundo Bacardí Massó realised, and set out to pioneer a new distilling process. After experimenting with several techniques he hit upon filtering the rum through charcoal, which removed impurities. In addition to this, Don Facundo aged the rum in white oak barrels, which had the effect of “mellowing” the drink. The final product was the first clear, or “white” rum in the world.
He opened his first distillery and planted a coconut palm at its entrance. it survived earthquakes, wars and distillery fires, leading to the prophecy that the company would survive Cuba as long as ‘El Coco’ lived. Not surprising then that when the Bacardí family were exiled from Cuba, El Coco died. To this day, a coconut palm is planted at every Bacardí Company facility.
Another well-known sign is the bat. In the early years of the Bacardí production, Doña Amalia Moreau, Don Facundo Bacardi’s wife, discovered a colony of fruit bats living in the rafters of their distillery. In both Spanish and local folklore, the bat had long since been associated with good health, fortune and family unity, which Doña Amalia Moreau convinced her husband to use the symbol on every bottle that was produced.
In 1876, Bacardí won itself its first international award at the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition for product quality and innovation. Its first of many as Bacardí is now recognised as the worlds most awarded rum. A year later, Emilio Bacardí took over as President as Don Facundo retired. The awards didn’t stop coming though, after being awarded a gold medal for product quality at the Barcelona Exhibition of 1888, the Queen Regent of Spain Maria Cristina named Bacardí as Purveyors of the Spanish Royal Household. Bacardí Rum became known as the ‘King of Rums and the Rum of Kings’.
1898 saw the beginning of a classic cocktail named the Daiquiri. Hailing from the mining town of Daiquirí, Cuba, an American mining engineer named Jennings Stockton Cox invented a cocktail using Bacardí, fresh lime, sugar and ice. After success with his friends, he named it ‘Ron BACARDÍ a la Daiquirí’. Another cocktail that Bacardí can be proud of is the Cuba Libra. Invented at the time of Cuba’s independence following the Spanish American War some time in the early 1900’s, a small Havana bar and a group of soldiers mixed Bacardí, cola and lime and toasted ‘por Cuba libre!’ or ‘to a free Cuba’.
When Prohibition was declared in the USA, 60,000 cases of Bacardí could not be sold or exported. Refusing to destroy the precious rum, Don Facundo’s son-in-law, Enrique Schueg, chose instead to give it away through an innovative share scheme. He issued 60,000 shares in Bacardi’s US Bottling Company and the very next day closed the company down, giving away one case of Bacardí as compensation for every share.
In the 1960’s, just prior to Bacardi’s 100th Anniversary, the Cuban administration confiscated all private businesses in Cuba without any compensation. Bacardí production was forced to stop and the Bacardí family lost its distilleries, breweries, offices, warehouses, ageing rum stocks and even their family homes. But thanks to Bacardí President Pepín Bosch, having transferred all company patents out of Cuba in 1958, and the company having established two distilleries in Puerto Rico and Mexico many years prior, Bacardí were able to rebuild itself in exile. In record time a new distillery opened in Brazil to support the existing distilleries and by 1979 Bacardí had become the world’s number one international spirit.
So a rather stella history, having built Bacardí effectively twice in there lifetime. Bacardí have a strong portfolio of rums, and I’ve been lucky enough to experience the odd one and write for you some tasting notes –
Bacardí Carta Blanca – 37.5%
What used to be named as ‘Superior’, this is a blend of rums aged separately within lightly charred ex-bourbon barrels for 12 to 24 months.
Whisps of tropical fruits and almonds on the nose followed by a little spice, but with vanilla dominating the palate. A rather smooth offering, but does develop into a dry finish with a hint of spice.
Bacardí Oakheart – 35%
Fermented in charred oak bourbon barrels. Rich oak aromas on the nose with a spice of cinnamon lingering. Hints of dried fruit on the palate mixed in with vanilla flavours and subtle smoke.
Bacardí Carta Fuego – 40%
Aged for at least on year with added spices. Rich, bold and smooth on the nose, with creamy vanilla, butter and caramel notes dominating. Smooth upon the palate, with the rich spices coming through giving of some heat. A warm finish combined with toffee and caramel creates a thin yet sharp experience.
I’ve also been very fortunate to experience an incredibly rare expression from Bacardí – Ron Bacardí de Maestros de Ron, Vintage, MMXII. For 30 years, José Sanchez Gavito was the Master Blender, becoming the first non Cuban and first non family member to be appointed the role. Upon his retirement, he was invited to be one of the eight family members to craft this expression, bringing together the best rums from the Bacardí cellar. The rum was then laid to rest in American oak barrels for 20 years and then swapped into 60-year-old Cognac barrels to age. Once the process was complete, the eight Maestros de Ron were left with 4 different rums to choose from. Over three days, they deliberated to find the perfect one that they could bottle within a glass decanter, ultimately giving it as a present to the Bacardí family.
Ron Bacardi de Maestros de Ron, Vintage, MMXII – 43%
Slight dried fruits of raisin and fig on the nose, with plenty of dried woods coming through and balancing nicely. The palate enjoyed a strong flavour of wood, interacting with sharp cherry, then softening with honey notes that created a very long finish. Utterly superb.
I mentioned previously that the Daiquiri and Cuba Libra first made its name in Cuba using Bacardí Superior, but it’s not the only cocktail you can have –
25 ml Bacardí Carta Blanca
25 ml Triple Sec
25 ml Freshly squeezed lemon juice
2/5 part Sugar syrup (Optional)
Pour all the ingredients into a shaker. Add the ice and shake. Add sugar if necessary. Double strain into a chilled glass.
Daiquiri – created by Bacardí UK Brand Ambassador Shervene Shahbazkhani
2 Heaped Tsp Caster Sugar
25 ml Fresh Lime
50 ml Bacardí Carta Blanca
Shake all the ingredients over ice and double strain into a coupette glass. No garnish required.
Simple, easy, enjoyable. Love or hate Bacardí, you can’t fault its legacy at all. Treat yourself.
*History taken from the Bacardí website. Subtle changes have been made for narrative purposes.
4 days in and it’s time for a twist on the classic Daiquiri using Havana 7yr.
Day 4 – Rome Daiquiri – Havana
50 ml of Havana Club Añejo 7 Años
2 spoons of sugar
5 ml of lime juice
2 drops of Marrasquino
3 spoons of Nutella
1 slice of banana
Pour all the ingredients into a blender. Add crushed ice. Blend for 3 seconds. Pour into a daiquiri glass.
Each day for the next 21 days their will be a different christmas cocktail added to the site, so sign yourself up to be the first to find out! Make sure you follow me on Twitter (and the hash tag #24daysofchristmascocktails) or Facebook for instant updates.
For the Havana site, click here to be directed to the links page
Funkin Puree are a well-known brand of fruit purees commonly used in most bars and restaurants. When I contacted Funkin regarding the use of their purees back when I worked at Casa Tapas, they sent me 3 ready-to-serve pouches to try – Cosmopolitan, Mojito and Passion Fruit Margarita. The Mojito pouch has unfortunately long gone but today I review the other two classics.
Passion Fruit Margarita –
I mixed the pouch with 1 25ml shot of Jose Cuervo Silver and stirred in a high-ball glass. As you can see by the picture, the cocktail would look a lot better with more ice in it – I only used two cubes for a short drink. As you can imagine, the distinctive smell of passion fruit hits your nostrils straight away and it seems to mask the tequila aroma. Upon taste there was a subtle sweet passion fruit texture until it hits your throat where it seems to release itself on your senses. You get the slight kick of the tequila but the mixer seems to subtly over-power it and I think it works well.
If you were to choose a tequila to go with the Passion Fruit or even the classic Margartia they have, try to edge for the silver variety. I think gold tequila may clash a little too much with the mix and take the enjoyment away from you.
This was hard to put my thumb on. The taste gave me a slight cranberry and lime on the palate, yet no hint of vodka (although admittedly that may have to do with the choice of the only open bottle of vodka I had – Co-op Imperial). The aromas gave off the same ingredients, yet they seem to mix quite well together. Don’t understand? I think what I’m trying to say is that it’s not the same Cosmopolitan you would order in a bar, and it doesn’t look like one either. But if you did a blind tasting of this, although a little thicker in texture, the only drink you would think is the Cosmo. I think it’s a hard drink to master in a puree style, it’s a little delicate if ordered fresh and is well-known to a lot of people. But I think they have just about done it. Its well worth a try, even if it’s just to check off your drinks list.